Selly Oak is one of four local council wards that make up the UK parliamentary constituency of the same name, which was created 60 years ago.
Labour’s Steve McCabe was elected as it’s MP for the first time in 2010, but the seat has been a stronghold for his party for the past 23 years, with all three of the current local councillors also representing Labour.
This hasn’t always been the case – Selly Oak’s first MP was Conservative politician and former University of Birmingham student Harold Gurden – a dairy technician who also served as President of the RSPCA.
Labour gained the seat from him in 1974, only for Lady Thatcher’s landslide victory to be reflected in Selly five years later, as the Tories regained the seat with Sir Anthony Beaumont-Dark at the helm.
A famously outspoken character, Beaumont-Dark once told Margaret Thatcher to stop playing“macho politics” and to get off her “economic high horse”, in the midst of the financial crisis in the mid-1980’s. He was also the subject of a sketch series by comic magazine, Viz, which regularly featured a character called Sir Anthony Regents Park, MP for Fulchester Sunny Oak.
He was left without the last laugh, as Labour became a local force again in 1992 under Lynne Jones, who retired from politics five years ago.
Selly By Numbers
60 years since Selly Oak constituency was created in 1955.
4 wards make up the constituency: Selly Oak, Bournville, Brandwood and Billesley.
3,492 Labour majority at the 2010 election.
104,067 population according to 2011 census figures.
Just 76 votes separated Labour and the Liberal Democrats in last May’s council elections for Selly Oak ward.
The Labour Party: Steve McCabe
Background: Born in Renfrewshire, Scotland, Steve qualified as a social worker in his home country before moving to the West Midlands at the age of 22. In 1997 be became an MP for Birmingham Hall Green, a position which he held until 2010, when he was elected in Selly Oak.
Pledges: Steve says that those who ‘play by the rules’ deserve a fair deal, including good education, jobs and housing. These areas are the focus of his campaign:
- Providing jobs, businesses and apprenticeships, ‘real jobs’ with appropriate hours, wages and conditions.
- Standing up for the NHS, including fighting to save the walk-in centre on Katie Road, and against cuts to the QE hospital and local GP practices.
- A focus on anti-social behaviour and new offences like online crime. This includes opposing cuts to police.
- New homes are needed for young people and families who can’t find a decent place to live.
“After 5 years of austerity…you deserve better. My plans focus on jobs, proper wages and a better future for all.” – Labour candidate for Selly Oak, Steve McCabe.
The Conservative Party: Alex Boulter
Background: Raised locally in South Birmingham, Alex is the daughter of a Police Officer in the neighbouring area of Stirchley. She studied at the University of Durham, and has spent the last three years working for an accountancy firm.
Pledges: Alex promises to be a strong voice ‘for every street in our area’ to help make Selly Oak a better place to live. Key parts of her campaign are:
- Helping local companies deliver apprenticeships – 2million of which the Conservative Party have delivered across the country since 2010.
- Ensuring that Selly Oak Library, one of several Birmingham libraries to be at risk of cuts, and even complete closure remains open.
- Taking pride in local living spaces including community clean up days which she takes part in to keep streets free of rubbish and litter.
- Standing up for Birmingham’s image, which she claims is ‘run down’ by some politicians, leaving residents (including students) to suffer.
“The issues in your street need a campaigner who puts them first and who works hard to give you a ‘voice’ in Parliament.” – Conservative Party candidate for Selly Oak, Alex Boulter.
The Liberal Democrats: Colin Green
Background: Originally from Lancashire, Colin went to Staffordshire University, where his engineering degree helped him develop a career as a Software Engineer. He credits this as ‘real world experience’ that many politicians often lack.
Pledges: Colin is proud of the Lib Dem’s record in government under the coalition and has three main priorities for Selly Oak that he wants to achieve:
- Building affordable housing including 300,000 new homes a year for a decade, is important to help drive down the cost of living. A ‘Right to Rent’ scheme would also mean that you could rent a house, whilst slowly accruing a share of it over a 30 year period.
- A fair living wage to improve living standards, including making the first £12,500 you earn free of income tax and National Insurance, which the party say would save ordinary workers £1000 a year
- Giving everyone a fair start in the working world, that isn’t dependent on their background, the jobs or wealth that their parents have.
“I want everyone to have opportunity, regardless of their background, so that talented people from disadvantaged backgrounds can get on in life” – Liberal Democrat candidate for Selly Oak, Colin Green.
The Green Party: Clare Thomas
Background: Clare has been local to south Birmingham most of her life. During this time she has raised her family, studied and worked, whilst taking part in many local community projects. She has worked for charities including Citizens Advice Bureau, and with Birmingham City Council on housing, libraries and social care.
Pledges: A vote for the Green Party in Selly Oak is described as ‘a vote for clear policies that reject austerity’. Key points that she has made are:
- Reform the higher education funding system that leaves students with large amounts of debt that most of them will never be able to pay off.
- Supporting students to reach their potential, regardless of their ability to pay.
- Protecting and relieving pressure on public services through investment to help local services deliver better quality services.
- Promoting and improving the waste system and management of recycling in Selly Oak.
“We offer something that’s different – I’m hoping students hear our message and vote for the Green Party” – Green Party candidate for Selly Oak, Clare Thomas.
United Kingdom Independence Party: Steven Brookes
Background: Another Birmingham born and bred candidate, Steven now lives in Bournville and has worked as a solicitor for more than 20 years. Disillusioned with the major political parties, he became a part of UKIP in 2010.
Pledges: In his candidate statement, Stephen stresses that UKIP are a hope for a ‘real, democratic, alternative voice’ for those who have been failed by the ‘clique’ of politicians in power. The proposed strategy for delivering this includes:
- Relieving pressure on local services by taking control of British borders through an Australian style points-based immigration system.
- If a student studies a STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathemtics) subject, they will not have to pay tuition fees if they are working and thereby contributing to the UK after a five year period following their studies.
- UKIP will not increase the current level of undergraduate courses until they can be sure there are sufficient vacancies in the economy to provide at least two-thirds of students with skilled graduate jobs.
- Help Britain cope with housing shortages by taking control of immigration, to also help preserve British history including important heritage sites.
“UKIP offers a new and refreshing approach to government, with an honest, straight talking, democratic path” – UKIP candidate for Selly Oak, Steven Brookes.
WHO GETS YOUR VOTE?
1. Sir Anthony Beaumont Dark, 1983, Birmingham Mail
All candidate pictures have been retrieved from personal or local party websites and twitter profiles.